Water Polo Wages War Against Pacific

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With in-state pennant chases gripping the Bay Area, even the Cal water polo team seems to have gotten into the spirit, setting up an improvised three-game series with Pacific.

The No. 4 Bears will face the No. 11 Tigers this Saturday in the second of what will be three straight matchups after the two teams met in the third-place game of last weekend's the Southern California Tournament, a 9-7 Cal win.

Saurday's match in Stockton, Calif., will be followed by a third meeting back at Spieker Aquatics Complex next week.

If Bears coach Kirk Everist had any complaints about last weekend's performance, these games should provide a perfect opportunity for his team to quell any concerns.

Although Cal came out on top last week, the first-year coach still sees room for improvement.

"We need to be aggressive right off the bat in order to get a better start," Everist said.

The Bears had a less than impressive start in the first period of last weekend's game, falling behind the Tigers 4-1.  

"(The last game was) a wake-up call for the guys," Everist said. "Pacific was playing very well together."

However, Cal was able to overcome the bad start by dominating the second half of the game.

The Bears made up for the first period deficit and outscored the Tigers 8-2 in the rest of the game, for a 9-7 final.

"You don't have to score all the goals at the beginning of the game," goalkeeper Russell Bernstein said. "Just as long as you score enough to win."

Pacific was the surprise team of last weekend's tournament, claiming the fourth place position, the highest finish in the university's history.

The Tigers ran through No. 8 Loyola Marymount and No. 3 USC in the first day of the tournament, only to be stopped by eventual second place finisher No. 7 UC Irvine. 

Everist was not surprised at Pacific's success despite the Tigers' 6-13 record last season, when they went winless in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play.

"They have good players and good organization," Everist said. "(We'll) need to go back to the things that were successful for us during our match against them."

Senior Chris Lathrop led the team on Sunday with three goals, while juniors Attila Banhidy and Will Quist chipped in with two goals each.

Also notable for the Bears was Bernstein, who tallied nine saves to keep Pacific at bay.

"We may have made mistakes during the game, but we kept looking forward," the senior goalkeeper said. "We handled ourselves very well considering the tournament games were our first games of the season."

With last weekend's tournament under its belt, Cal will continue its series against Pacific knowing what to expect and what it will take to sweep.


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